Laziza is Arabic for delicious
Aziza is the Michelin-starred Moroccan-Californiafied restaurant opened by Iron Chef winner, Mourad Lahlou
It is also where Marta, Emily, and I went out to celebrate a (two days early) birthday dinner
Aziza is not like most Moroccan restaurants you see in the States. Most typical Moroccan restaurants are elaborately decorated with floor cushions and low tables where multiple courses consisting of Harira (lentil soup), salata (Moroccan salad), Pastilla (chicken in phyllo dough with cinnamon/powdered sugar) and plates of couscous tagines, lamb shanks, and succulent preserved lemon are laid out to be shared (and eaten with the hands of course). There is no subpar belly dancer or rose water rinse to get the scent of harissa out of your fingers
Instead, this is an upscale California-fied restaurant where the dishes are elaborately assembled, looking nothing like your expectations, yet still containing the robust flavours of Moroccan food
A close family friend of ours (from Morocco) knows Mourad Lahlou personally and has been telling us about Aziza for years and the various pinnacles of success this talented chef has reached between Iron Chef, a PBS programme, a book deal, and most recently a Michelin star for 2010 and 2011.
In other words, a perfect choice for a pre-birthday dinner
I insisted on us documenting ourselves with some photos despite the lack of aesthetic appeal in this particular Richmond district parking lot
We decided to start with flatbread and spreads for the table
As for main courses:
This came with an accompanying bowl of couscous (the photo came out blurry so I decided to omit it), it was absolutely stunning- look at that foam, the slivers of almonds and roasted cauliflower. Plus the couscous was fluffy and definitely freshly made- what a lot of people don’t realise is that couscous is NOT a grain, but little rolled balls of semolina, so it is quite an arduous task to make it fresh
Soft and succulent, the way a regal filet of halibut should be
This dish was phenomenal! The eggplant was in the form of a spread and the array of vegetables were so full of Moroccan tastes and flavours, yet everything was assembled in such an ‘haute couture’ arrangement
After the entrees, our very knowledgeable and friendly waiter brought us the dessert menu, and unfortunately we all feigned fullness and asked for the bill
I was a little confused however when he started bringing more silverware and said to me, “I know you weren’t serious when you said no to dessert.”
Or perhaps the fact that I slipped at the beginning of the meal that this was my birthday dinner
And let me just say this is the dessert I WOULD have chosen anyways!
Absolutely amazing…and the third night in a row this week of having a different form of chocolate cake (hey, it’s BIRTHDAY WEEK!)
I was admittedly a bit sceptical about licorice root ice cream since I’m not a fan of licorice taste in my desserts, but it was surprisingly subtle and a perfect compliment to the innovative cake rendition
But that wasn’t even the conclusion to the meal, this was:
Verdict: I am obsessed with Aziza, not only is the food OUTSTANDING and worthy of it’s Michelin star, but the service is impeccable and the atmosphere lacking any semblance of being ‘uptight’ (and the restroom has a dressing table/boudoir in it)!
I will most definitely be back!
Have you ever had Moroccan food?
What’s the most innovative rendition of chocolate cake you’ve ever had?